The airing of the video of Ferdinand Marcos’ declaration of martial law on Sept. 23, 1972, reminds activists of the time of the lies that the dictator foisted on the nation to justify his seizure of power.
One of those activists, Satur Ocampo, one of the former leaders of the National Democratic Front (NDF), the umbrella organization of the Philippine communist movement, yesterday said it was important to preserve the videos of the declaration so that Filipinos themselves could hear straight from Marcos his reasons for imposing martial law.
The declaration has a different feel coming from Marcos rather than from his underlings, Ocampo said in a phone interview with the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
By listening to the declaration in full, Ocampo said, people could dispute Marcos’ assessment of the danger to the state that the so-called communist insurgency posed.
Ocampo said he was unable to watch Marcos’ declaration on television 40 years ago because by that time, he had already gone “semi-underground” as a precaution.
He said he only learned Marcos’ reasons later. He had also been unable to watch the present administration’s re-airing of the video on its official website on Sunday evening, he said.
But regardless of when he heard Marcos’ reasons, Ocampo said, these were unfounded.
He said Marcos exaggerated the strength of the leftist forces to paint a picture of a country in turmoil so that he could say he had a reason to impose martial rule.
The exaggeration extended to the firepower of the Left, he said. The truth was the Left hardly had any firepower, he said.
On the video, Ocampo said, Marcos said the New People’s Army’s claim that it was well funded had a basis in fact, and it had sources of funds from within and outside the Philippines.
Marcos said the NPA was also capable of landing armaments, military equipment and personnel on Philippine shores.
All that was a lie, Ocampo said. “The overestimation of the leftist forces was a lie,” he said.
Another lie, Ocampo said, was the alleged ambush of Marcos’ defense secretary, Juan Ponce Enrile, which the dictator recorded in his diary to justify martial law.
In his televised declaration, Marcos made no explicit reference to the Enrile ambush, but he cited attempts to infiltrate the military organization and the Office of the Defense Secretary, as well as efforts to sabotage the operations of the Armed Forces and of the national government.
A former party-list congressman, Ocampo cited attempts to gloss over or even deny the dark side of Marcos’ martial rule.
“Most sinister” of those attempts, he said, were the assertions of Marcos’ son, Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., that claims of human rights abuses during martial law were black propaganda.
“He’s insulting the victims,” Ocampo said.
Senator Marcos said last week that most of the claims about his father’s martial rule were just “self-serving statements by politicians, self-aggrandizement narratives, pompous declarations, and political posturing and propaganda.”
Judging whether that period in the history of the Philippines was good or bad should be left to historians, Senator Marcos said.
Charging that violation of human rights was governmental policy during martial law is reckless, he said.
The younger Marcos was 15 years old when his father put the Philippines under martial law in 1972. He was 29 when his family fled to Hawaii after his father’s fall from power in February 1986.
He is touted to be aiming for Malacañang in the 2016 presidential election.